This is the rocket stove build, part 1. We started with a firebrick base and my *incredible* masonry skills.
Here are some things that I really need to practice:
These were cut with a chisel, so I only did the bare minimum and broke many blocks in the process.
Application of mortar and keeping things level
Taking my time to make sure things are square.
It took my all of about 2 hours to assemble. I was more excited to build it quickly than to build it well.
Upgrades to this stove:
Add an ash tray for easy extraction after cooking
Add decorative bricks on the outside to make the appearance more fashionable
Add a grill for cooking access
I have one that I can use temporarily from my barbecue grill
Notes about the first test:
This stove gets really hot at the top
This was the reason for the build, a reliable wood fired outdoor cooking surface.
Great backup if hurricanes hit my area and we can’t power our electric stove for a few days.
Using only a few sticks is sufficient for cooking in comparison to a pit fire which requires a massive amount of fuel. I may put a bin on the porch or the garage to collect the random sticks from the yard and have them convenient for use.
After initial lighting, the smoke is significantly reduced when the rocket stove is running at full power.
This will be great for marshmallows with the little SNHers without too much fuss.
Now we have to finish the stove to make it look nice, add a firepit as posted previously and add the pavers to form a seating area in the back yard. As they say, it’s a process, not a race.
We finally made good on planting up some new figs. This will help give us more fruit consistently in the coming years as they grow as discussed in a previous article about staggering harvest times with your perennial plantings.
I still need to finish up with some nice mulch and a decent ring around them. I found that the previous homeowner left the remnants of a plastic garden border buried. That is the thing sticking up between the figs in the picture. I planted the larger Brown Turkey in the corner to fill that area of the yard, leaving about 6′ of space between the fence. I plan to keep both trimmed to around a max height of 8′.
We also did some harvesting over the last few weeks.
I worked a good bit in the garden today and had to share some of the pics. Our winter veggies are starting to get too hot. The lettuce is bolting, the last of the turnips were given to a neighbor and I pulled some of the old Tabasco and Jalapeno’s that didn’t make it through the short freeze.
The good news is that I have been planting lots and lots. Tomatoes, peppers, seminole pumpkins, eggplants, cucumbers, some old cantaloupe seeds and watermelon.
The blueberries are on their second year of growth. I bought them as twigs and most are now about 2′ high. Next year will be the year for getting berries off of them. They take so long to get into production, but well worth the wait.
Lastly, I put in 2 peach trees as bare roots making good on my plan for citrus, peaches and figs to extend the fruit harvest over different periods. The peaches are actually flowering and now have a good set of leaves. I was a bit worried as I bought them from TyTy in Georgia which has some mixed reviews. In this case, I would give them a thumbs up. They came well packed and are so far fairly healthy.
I’ll end with this thought: in Florida you need to have a plan to battle the sugar sand. It seems like it is just swallowing everything that we put into it. I am making more of an effort with mulching in the walkways to get some humus underneath. I’ll rotate the humus into the gardens when it is broken down a bit. I also want to experiment a bit with biochar as a way to re-charge the sand and store nutrients like a battery. When folks in the neighborhood trim trees, I’ll collect some of the wood and start the biochar project. Sound like a good thing for a late summer night. I have been excited to see the work from David the Good and have taken a good bit to his teachings. They are practical and centered on food production.
Sugar Sand amended with old dried grass for organic matter.
Sweet potatoes from last season decided to start sprouting with the warmer weather, so I put those out today as well to get the slip production into full swing.
Tomatoes Started: Roma, Sweetie, Pink Brandywine, Green Zebra and few Brads Atomic Grape. I still have a few varieties to start, but this is nice. Below is a seed tray with purple bells, California Wonder Bells, Early Jalapenos and jimmy nardello peppers. We are just getting to a 60/70 degree daytime temp, so this is about the right time to start them outdoors.
Planted a row of red potatoes. I hope to see between 5 and 10 lbs from this planting.Yes, we have raspberries. I really didn’t give it much of a chance, but here it is. Our blackberries are also producing! The oak leave much is also below to help feed the plants and create some life below the soil. Sure is sandy down there.My yellow wax beans popped up! The real reason for this planting is to get some nitrogen fixing into this soil. This is the bed where the old shed used to be.Yep, the girls are laying again. 3 a day, and soon to be 5. If you need some eggs and live in the brevard county area, I am open to a weekly drop at $5/dozen since we cant eat that many.Romaine Lettuce is beautiful and going to seed. We could not eat enough of it. I am working to find a balance between how much we should plant for each type of crop for maximum use. More beans, sweet potatoes, carrots. Less in lettuce category.
Hello SNH’ers, the family has been busy this December. A few things to note: the garden is producing well for our winter items. Lots of lettuce, pickling cucumbers and pak choi are coming in. I also have a good amount of collards, mustard and some swiss chard growing.
We got to bake some really tasty things, like some great gluten free peanut butter cookies and a peach upside down cake.
On the investment side, I am still seeing lots of inflationary effects and have diversified the portfolio to include some income producers like JEPI, QYLD and some stabilizers like SCHD. We are seeing slower growth rates in both the 401k and Roth accounts, typical of the political and business climate right now. I am working to weed out the portfolio from items that haven’t performed and don’t maintain the same outlook when the initial positions were taken.
The winter brought some awful service issues to our home. First, we had to replace a septic pump, then an air conditioning issue hit us up. Lastly, we had to repair an alternator. That really has wiped out a few months of savings, so our new year will see us get back into the black.
Here are some nice things to look at from the last quarter:
Winter pickling, great harvest on a whim planting them in October.
Red potatoes dug 12/29, going into the chicken soup tonight
Some great baby Pak Choi that came out of the lettuce bed
We’ll just see what ‘turnip’ in the garden today
A little SNH’er filling her bucket with purple hull black eyed peas
Mrs. SNH out petting the cows at our local orange upick orchard.
Yes, a handwritten recipe for a great peach upside-down cake
We ate the whole thing that night.
Lastly, I have really been enjoying watching David the Good on youtube. I encourage you to check out his videos. They can bring a dose of practicality to an otherwise crazed gardening world.
I started messing around with a 3d cad software called onshape (https://www.onshape.com) and built a basic fire pit that I intend to build this fall next to the rocket stove. Here are the plans if you want them.
I spent the weekend building the chicken coup. The ladies are getting too big and need to have some room to roam. Vertical beams are sunken to 18″ with a concrete footer. The max height is 6’6″, but tapers to 6’3″ at the rear. I planned on originally roofing the top, but now think we will just put wire on it for now. If it rains, they will have access to the inside of the shed. This will also help keep the structure around during a hurricane. If I put a roof on it, it might just sail away.
I did not get as far as I wanted to since it is V-day weekend and Mrs. SNH’s birthday weekend. This is always a very busy time of year.
I found out just how un-even my ground was. My level became my best friend on this build. Still need to finish up with hardware cloth, a door to the inside of the shed and frame off a section in the shed for the 4 ladies.The green beans were found reaching for the sun this morning. Glad to see they are starting to take off.The peas have decided to start climbing as well.
Ok, sorry, had to borrow that from that insurance brand. Really, once we got rid of the tree, we were able to install a fence and keep Cocoa the wonderdog out. She supervised the construction of the fence. The garden area is shaping up for some planting this year.
Yes, a fencing problemgravel 2.5′ down in a whole, cement from 2′ to 6″ deep, 8 posts installed.There was a 40 foot tree in the center of that view previously.progress pic, oh, and I picked up some wood for a 8×4 garden bed as well.4′ opening for the yard tools and wheel barrows.Uhh, nevermind that unfinished gate, you didn’t see that.Blackberry trellis installed with a plant that was barely a twig and has overwintered.And yes, as I promised. A winter tomato picked by the youngest SNH’er. It was delicious.
Mrs. SNH did a great job of clearing out some of the old homeowner’s plantings around the house. This is making way for us to get the back yard in shape. I was planning to chop down the large Pine in the rear, but decided it would be better to talk to a Professional before I take that one on.
If you are planning to do your own tree removal, please check out a few safety videos on felling trees. There are a lot of things that could go wrong. Better to pay a pro if you are in a tight spot and haven’t done it before.
We got a few of the cool season veggies started in some plant pots. We placed them on the roof of the shed that is still standing. This avoids the rather nosey wonderdog from interrupting the young plants. We started with Broccoli, Snow Peas and Romaine lettuce.
Last night was fun too, we ordered 2 Orange trees from backyardcitrustrees.com. I staggered the variety with a Valencia and Navel to give a slightly different flavor and slightly different harvest time. It will take about 3 years before we see the ‘fruits of our labor’ but well worth the free shipping and anticipation of our fresh citrus. The last little bit to round out our trees for the property will likely be an avocado and peach.
Lastly, we decided to relieve the stress of vacuuming up after the cats and dog. We purchased a Shark Robotic Vacuum and put it to work. We named her Mrs. Patmore after the cook in Downton Abbey. I know, pretty unimpressive if you already have one of these doing the chores for you, but it truly is a time saver allowing you to do more productive things.
Good Afternoon SNH’ers. The little SNH’ers are looking forward to Santa Clause making a visit and I am out prepping parts of the garden. Here are the highlights:
* Hose system is partially extended to the garden area. I’ll be finished with the extension tomorrow. I cant wait to actually have water on the other side of the house.
* The Lemon/Lime combo tree is planted in the ground about 10 feet outside of the edge of the house. This should give enough room when it is full size.
* I’ll be cementing the first permanent post of the fence system tomorrow. I also fixed a hole in the fence where our pug friend was popping in to visit Cocoa the wonderdog. While our pug friend is nice, he should stay in his own yard.
* The banana tree has been trimmed of a few of its dying leaves which pulled down our ISP cable into the house.
Other smart tips for December:
Get your investments in order before the end of the year in case you need to make plans for filing taxes.
Re-evaluate your portfolio’s and talk with your financial advisor about the upcoming year.
Don’t leave your iPhone on the hood of your car. Apparently when you drive, they fall off! Who knew. Mrs. SNH wont be doing that one again!